Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Year Older... and Wiser too!

Dear All,

Yes, it's this week. Friday I enter the home stretch of the mission: Year 2. No, I don't believe it either! I heard the tradition that missionaries burn a tie at 6 months, a shirt at 1 year, and some burn a suit finishing the mission. I'm not much of a burner, and I still like my shirts, so I think I'll be keeping mine, but I am thinking about buying a cake. I'm thinking that's something fun I'll do.

As for the transfer, it went fantastic. I am now in the area Villa Hermosa, in the zone Villa Hermosa. It's the same zone as La Corona, my 2nd area, so I'm super excited to be back. My companion is Elder Perez, from San Salvador, El Salvador. When I entered the mission, he was in Jerusalén with Elder Caceres, my trainer. He left that area the day I came, so of course we've been talking a lot about that area as well. He and I get along really well, and we're working on English a bit with him as well.

In our district are several other great missionaries. Elder Hansen and Elder Terrazas are the zone leaders, and are in our district. Elder Hansen was my zone leader in Jerusalén, and in La Corona, so I know him well. Elder Terrazas was in Sonora 1 a few months before I was, and entered the same day I did. He just has 6 weeks more in the field because the Latinos don't have 6 weeks extra in the CCM to learn Spanish! Also with us are Sister Knudsen, from my district in the CCM, and in Jerusalén, and Sister Garcia, who was my fellow techie in the CCM. Also, Elder Silva is the district leader, and he was the district leader's companion in Sonora, so I know just about everyone in the district. Now that I think about it, it makes me feel old. Elder Silva's companion is Elder Finau Ngalu, from Australia, who entered in the same group as Elder Luna. He's pretty cool, too.

The area is a little different from my last area. The ward is a little smaller, but the members are fantastic. The Bishop has us over for lunch every Sunday, and he's really cool. Also, there's a guy who makes custom suits for the missionaries, who is a member of the church. His name is Hilton, and he lives in my area, so I think I'll be starting a suit soon, but we'll see. There are some fantastic people here, and I'm super excited to be able to work here. We're going to be working hard to reach some goals we've set as a mission this week, and this month. It'll be very, very good and I'm excited to be a part of it. We already have 2 baptisms lined up for this weekend!

And yes, they did ask me to play the piano in transfer meeting. It went well, but we arrived just 10 minutes before the meeting started, because Hermano Peña gave us a ride, but had a stop to make on the way to the meeting that took a little longer than expected. But everything worked out, and here I am!

Elder Luna received Elder Hopper, who was in the same zone already (Amatitlán), and had already met my comp. It'll be interesting to see how they get along, because their personalities are pretty different!

Also, yesterday, an elder who returned from the mission here about a year ago came to visit. He was one of Elder Perez' companions, so we met up to say hi. He was also in Sonora at one point, and in Linda Vista as well, so we know a lot of the same people. He said to us "Take care. I would trade places with you in a second!" Another one of this elder's companions, Elder Pavon, is just up the hill from us in my old area, La Corona. He went there from Jerusalén, and a while before that, he was in Sonora 1, so he knows all of my areas, with the exception of the current one! That was kind of fun, and since Elder Perez was also in Jerusalén, we talked a bit about that with him as well. Elder Perez was there right before me, and Elder Pavon right after me, so it was cool to see. We talked in particular about the Paniagua family, who Elder Perez found with his companion, I taught with my companions, and Elder Pavon married and baptized with his companion. It was pretty neat. And now I really feel old.

Know this, that the love of God is infinite. He has provided so many things for me and my companions, and changed the lives of so many people. I've seen it and I've lived it, and there is no doubt in my mind of it. God will never forget you.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They really do help.

Yours in the Faith,
Elder Banks

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